Grant Shapps: Guardian's Wikipedia investigation is 'silly season story'

PUBLISHED: 06:30 12 September 2012 | UPDATED: 11:35 12 September 2012

Grant Shapps at the election meeting

Grant Shapps at the election meeting

Casey Gutteridge 07525246273

WELWYN Hatfield MP Grant Shapps has again brushed off criticism over his internet dealings – dismissing claims about his online activity as “silly season stories”.

The newly-appointed Conservative Party co-chair made headlines last week – and not always regarding his promotion to the Cabinet.

Following a series of investigations by The Guardian newspaper, Mr Shapps has faced questions over his use of the web.

He was first linked to internet business HowToCorp, which was selling a software package that broke Google’s Terms of Use regarding copyright. Mr Shapps did indeed found the business, but resigned in 2008.

Then the left-wing paper claimed 19 websites owned by Mr Shapps’ wife, mother or sister had been barred by the US search engine, which proved untrue.

Now, the paper has revealed Mr Shapps edited information on his own Wikipedia page without submitting a request to the information website. This, the Guardian said, was against Wikipedia’s terms of use.

But now Mr Shapps has laughed off the paper’s investigations.

Referring to the infamous “silly season” – the summer months when newspapers print more frivolous stories due to a lack of more newsworthy events – Mr Shapps said: “Since I don’t own any of the Google sites in question, the story is tenuous to say the least.

“But add to this that the sites aren’t actually banned on Google and it does make you wonder the motivation for the story.”

On editing his Wikipedia page, he added: “What the story failed to cover was the fact that, as a newer MP, I was trying to keep blatant inaccuracies off my page.

“According to Wiki vandals I was a Jehovah’s Witness one week, and an Agnostic the next.

“There was the claim that I’d controversially crashed my car into a wall, presumably that’s something that we’d all remember, and that I received an A in Craft, Design and Technology.

“Sadly for me it was only a B, but in fact Wiki pages don’t normally carry secondary school exam results at all.

“Anyway, the lesson I’ve learnt is that no matter how crazy the claims on your Wiki page, it’s best to just shrug your shoulders and ignore it. Which has been my policy for the past couple of years.”

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